Archive | January 2013

Primary Trigonometric Ratios Screencast

For my EMTH 351 class, I had to develop a question from anywhere in the grade 9-12 curriculum and explain it in one and a half minutes.  I chose to do outcome 10.8 from the  Workplace and Apprentice 10 curriculum.  This outcome states:

WA10.8 Demonstrate an understanding of primary trigonometric ratios (sine, cosine, and tangent).

Here is my first Screencast that I created.  Here is the second Screencast.  The program that I used is called

A short reflection:

I would definitely use this in my teaching.  I might use this if I wanted to try a flip classroom or put on some practice problems to help my students out.  I have never seen or tried teaching using a flip classroom, although it is something I’d sure like to try (even though I’m a bit scared too!).

I’m not quite sure of why the video had to be exactly one and a half minutes (plus or minus a couple seconds).  Maybe this could help us with explaining concepts and getting straight to the point, but if this is not why, well I’d sure like to know!


** After writing this blog, I had a meeting with my professor to discuss my videos.  He explained to me the purpose of the time frame and it was more just to get us comfortable recording ourselves, look at the technical aspects of our lessons, and prepare us for our next task.  In this next task, we will be doing a microteaching in which we will be teaching a lesson to our class mates and we will record ourselves only explaining a question.


ECS 350 Reader Response #2

For today’s reader response, I read chapter four of the Differentiated Instructional Strategies” by Gregory and Chapman.  This chapter was all about assessment and evaluation and the different types of assessment and evaluation.  Many ideas were introduced for different ways to assess and evaluate students.  A few of the ideas that I liked were the graffiti wall, mostly because I thought it was an interesting and more student engaging version of doing a KWL chart, and also the portfolios.

One of my “AHA” moments while reading this chapter was at the section discussing portfolios.  The main reason why I had an “AHA” moment at this part was because it reminded me of one of my teachers who had used this.  It was one of my high school math teachers and she mostly kept our tests, exams and homework in these portfolios.  One reason that I really liked this idea, both now and at the time, is because it displayed some of my work of what I was doing in the class and because it made for a really detailed review that covered all of the content.  Also, now with my new teaching experience and knowledge, I also like this idea because it’s something to show parents at conferences (so basically make it quite a bit easier for parent-teacher interviews) and because it’s a good way to see how a student has progressed and what they need to work on (or even what I need to work on if it’s a common error between quite a few students).

Another sort of “AHA” moment that I had while reading this chapter was the section discussing the type of feedback that we should give students.  I have never really thought of which type of feedback I should be giving my students but when I think of it, I probably would have just thought to just give a mixture of both the grade and the descriptive feedback.  However, I began to think that I shouldn’t when the textbook stated that students are still more focused on the grade if we give both so they don’t really improve.  Also if we only give the descriptive feedback, it’s been proven that students will improve up to 60% better.  I didn’t just cave in that easily to what the text was saying.  I thought about this and how I’ve received feedback in previous classes, and now I completely agree with what the text was saying.  For assignments (especially essays!), I always went straight to the mark first (and I still do this, sadly).  If I am satisfied with the mark that I received, I wouldn’t look at the descriptive feedback; if I was unsatisfied with it, then I would actually go back and read through the comments and take them seriously.  So, I do strongly agree with this statement and it definitely made me more aware of the type of feedback I should be giving to my students.

After reading this, I still am left with a few questions.  The first question I have is about grading:  Should we grade on the individual quality of work and how much a student has grown or should we mark based off of certain standards already set out by the teacher/school?  I just have this question because I do believe that students who put in quite a bit of effort and have grown should deserve a good grade, even if they aren’t quite getting the content versus a student who doesn’t try very hard and hasn’t grown much.  My second question is: If students improve more when we only give descriptive feedback, should we be doing more descriptive feedback type of assessment or should be grading them?  One thing that I have talked about in this class and others is that we need a variety of assessment for students because not all students excel at certain tasks, so it wouldn’t be fair to only grade exams and tests or just homework because not all students can properly show their understandings and knowledge that they have gained through certain tasks.  So, what type of feedback should we be mostly giving them?  Could it be the combination of the grading and the descriptive feedback but only give them the descriptive feedback?  Or could we do both as well but give the grade some time after we have given the descriptive feedback and they’ve had a chance to look over the comments?  I’m thinking that it should be the last, but that one itself does pose problems, such as students could catch on to the fact that they will just receive their grade later so then they won’t even bother to look at the feedback.  So I am curious… what are your thoughts?

Statement of commitment: I really wish that I could create a statement of commitment for finding the answers to either of my questions but I feel that they are almost dependent on what the teacher believes and so then there really is no right or wrong answer.  So, I will not commit to finding an absolute answer to either of these questions, but what I can commit to is trying to find what I feel is the answer that reflects both who I am and what I believe as a teacher.

Blog About It PDR Journal Entry #2

A) What is my perspective on the importance of teacher’s beliefs about what mathematics is, what it means to know and do mathematics, and why mathematics is important to learn?

After reading the article “Why Teachers Matter” by Goos and “The Importance of Mathematics Teachers’ Beliefs” by Beswick, I feel that these articles really supported my thoughts and understanding of how it is important to have and be aware of your teaching beliefs about what mathematics is, what it means to know and do mathematics, and why mathematics is important to learn (and basically just in general as well!).  I believe that a teacher’s view on what mathematics is has a huge affect on how and what that teacher teaches his/her students and how his/her students will interpret this.  For example, reflecting back on my high school math class, it was extremely obvious of how my teacher thought of math: she felt that math was numbers and computations and finding the right answer.  A few examples include: you could see this in the way she taught: when presenting us with new information, she wouldn’t explain how the equation or theory worked, she just introduced it to us then went over practice problems as a class.  When marking exams and tests, she liked to give a lot of multiple choice where the answer was only being assessed rather than the process and steps of how the students arrived at the answer.  Those were just a few examples of how I feel her beliefs affected her teaching, but how this affected me as a student was that it caused me to think that math was just something that I would always need outside of school and it was just for computations and final answers.  I carried this belief up until I got to university when I was shown a different way of thinking about math which is now the way I prefer to think of math.  So clearly, a teacher’s belief about math affects many factors in a classroom and can even change how a student feels about a subject.  My argument can further be backed by the quote in the Goos reading which states: “evidence from a multitude of research studies shows that students’ mathematics learning and their dispositions towards mathematics are indeed influenced – for better or for worse – by the teaching that they  experience at school.”  Now I know this won’t be the case for all students, but I know my teachers have had a huge impact on how I viewed mathematics, and other subjects!

B) What is my mathematics “creed”

1) I believe that in mathematics, the process and steps of solving a problem is more important than the answer itself.

2) I believe that mathematics teachers should try to make learning math real, engaging, thought-provoking and authentic, for example, by using methods and questions that have real life meaning for them.

3) I believe that mathematics teachers should have a more student centered approach to teaching mathematics.

4) I believe that if a mathematics teacher has a strong passion for the subject and has certain values and beliefs about the subject, than this will translate into their teaching and many students will come to believe this as well.

5) I believe mathematics is important not only for real world applications, but also for developing cognitive skills that can benefit students both in school and out.

Case Study Response #2 Reflection

Just a recap on what we did in class today for others, we continued to work on the case study that I had completed a previous response for.  We got into groups and tried to determine the best way to merge the two classes and teach them effectively.

Coming up with a project plan merger definitely wasn’t an easy task.  I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy, but I was hoping for a solution that could work for all students.  A few things that we considered when merging these two classrooms were the decorations around the classroom, seating arrangement and where students will sit, how we will get the class to be more comfortable around one another, the type of material we should begin with, how we should present it (teaching methods), and also how we could accommodate for every student (including the student who has a child).  However, of all the things discussed, I feel that the teaching methods and adapting the classroom to fit everyone’s needs was the most difficult question to answer.

Trying to organize and teach a class so that it fits the needs of all students cannot be done in one way.  It is nearly impossible to be able to meet the needs of all our students when teaching a lesson, especially if you have a diverse and new group of students.  Even if you do make individual adaptations, you cannot meet every single students needs, especially if you don’t know your students or they won’t open up to you.  So when determining which teaching method to use that will accommodate as many students needs as possible, which should you choose?  You also can’t use the same teaching methods over and over again because then students will get bored of it or for those students that it doesn’t meet, it will just cause them to either fall back or work that much harder to keep up (which if its students with low retention rates, this wouldn’t be very encouraging for them!).  Also, which students do you choose to meet their needs?  You would think the bottom two thirds of the class since the students doing above average should be smart already and should be capable enough to be able to adapt and change to the different ways of teaching, right?  But would that really be fair to them?  Would this cause them to lose interest in school or fall behind?  Also, what if the bottom 2/3 of the students is really where all the diversity of learning needs is?  Then how would you adapt to that?

For me, I really think that you just have try and see what works for the majority of your students and if that doesn’t work for the few students that you couldn’t make adaptations to fit as a class, then you will have to try to make individual adaptations as best as you can.  You also can’t just use one teaching method because it could get boring and/or wear the students out.  Using a variety of teaching methods and trying to find ways to make them in charge of their learning I believe will be key to keeping them engaged and involved.  Also, knowing and understanding your students is going to play a key role in this situation and could greatly increase your chances of understanding how to maximize the learning for all your students in your class.  The second teacher (at least in this situation) I believe will also play a key role and it will be important to work with him/her.

Letter of Introduction – Pre-internship

January 17th, 2013


My name is Ashley McMurchy. I was born and raised in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan where I attended Carlton Comprehensive High School.  In 2008, I moved to Moose Jaw where I completed the rest of high school at A. E. Peacock Collegiate.  I graduated in 2010, and in that same year, I moved to Regina to study at the University of Regina.  I am now completing my third year of the Bachelor of Education degree where I have a major in math and a minor in business.

I enjoy being active in both my community and school.  However, because I do like to be involved in a variety of activities, a lot of my experience with teaching, unfortunately, mostly comes from my time in the education program.  However, I have had a few experiences outside, which include tutoring a grade six math student, tutoring grade six students in math and social studies at the Regina Public Library, supervising and teaching at the Mathematics Enrichment Camp, being a judge at the Regina Huda School science fair, and working with people with disabilities at Cheshire Homes of Regina.  As for leadership, I have experience being an ambassador at the university where I have led campus tours and helped organize events.  In addition, I have been part of numerous school sports teams. I believe that these experiences have definitely increased my confidence and helped me grow as a person and a teacher.

I feel that I have grown a tremendous amount since I first started the program, although I know I still have a long way to go until I am near the teacher that I want to become.  One thing that my schooling experience has helped me with is develop a passion and have a better understanding of math.  Also, I have become more aware of myself; I have realized what I need to work on, and I am also more open to trying new things.  I would like to work on trying new teaching methods and trying to steer away from the typical way of teaching a math lesson.  I would like my lessons to be more student-centered and work towards understanding math concepts rather than using a teacher-centered approach which might cause students to memorize rather than understand.  I will admit, I have never tried this in a classroom, but it is something I am eager to try.

Now that you know more about me, I can’t wait to get to know both you and your students.  Thank you for taking me in as a pre-intern and I really appreciate it.  If you would like to contact me, you can either reach me by email: ************ or by phone: (***) ***-****.


Ashley McMurchy

Aboriginal Canada Government Website – Treaty Education Resource

Here is a link to the Aboriginal Canada Government website.  The link will send you directly to the teacher resources which includes lesson plans and activities, curriculum and education programs, and a website to the Northern Lights School Division.  Under the lesson plans and activities, there is the Treaty Education Toolkit that, if I’m right, was discussed at the Treaty Education workshop that the pre-internship students attended last week.

Kumashiro Chapter One Response

So I know that I have already read the Kumashiro book, “Against Common Sense,” but to be honest, I don’t exactly remember a whole lot of what his initial messages were in his book and I had also read it in the beginning of the semester before I had gained my new knowledge and understandings. So, I thought it would be appropriate to do another reflection on this reading and see what new understandings or connections that I could come up with.

So, in this chapter, Kumashiro focuses on how 3 different images of “good teachers” that come out of teacher education programs being taught in the U.S., which are:

1. Teacher as Learned Practitioner – Coming out of the program, these teachers usually have a general understanding of three things: a) who young students are, how they develop, and how they learn, b) what they will teach and be able to demonstrate this, and c) how to actually teach.  These teachers are also more commonly being introduced to and made aware of oppression.

2. Teacher as Researcher – These teachers have the idea and belief that everyone should be life long learners.  They also know how to conduct research projects and reflect upon their teaching experiences.

3. Teacher as Professional – These teachers have a belief that teaching and fulfilling certification requirements are professional developments.  By thinking themselves as professionals, they also have a fairly set definition of what a “good teacher” actually is (which actually discourages looking forward and troubling knowledge and understandings).

Now, these not the only ways that teachers are viewed, but they are the most common.  Also to note is the fact that these views/images are not perfect. This is an understandable conclusion though, especially with living in a constantly changing and diverse society.  It is nearly impossible to keep up with the latest information or even to possibly cover the amount of information in the programs.

One thing that I noticed was a huge emphasis (and is basically what the book is about) is that a “good” teacher is aware of social justice and oppression issues occurring in his/her school (and also other schools).  At first, I thought that this doesn’t really have to be a factor for being a “good” teacher, thinking that a teacher who may be oblivious to oppression or social justice can still be a good teacher as long as his/his students are learning.  However, the more I thought about it, the more my opinion changed.  If students are being oppressed in schools and teachers are not trying to prevent it or unaware of it, this could affect students learning and ultimately the students themselves.  One thing that we continuously talk about (and I’ve repeated quite often in my blogs) is that students need to feel safe, welcome, and accepted in their classroom in order to help students maximize their learning.  So, if students are being oppressed, then there’s a good chance they aren’t learning to their full potential.  So, after that consideration, I now agree more with the authors push towards teachers become aware of oppression and social justice.

One thing that I was quite surprised that I didn’t do the first time I had read this chapter but thought of now, was how the education program at the University of Regina (the program that I am currently in) fits into these images.  In my opinion, I feel that the program here is aiming to create teachers that fit into a combination of both Teacher as Learned Practitioner and Teacher as Researcher.  Throughout my studies in this program, some of the more discussed topics were understanding our students, learning how to teach and different ways to teach, and oppression.  As well, they have also pushed the belief that everyone is a life long learner and that we need to reflect on our teaching and ourselves as teachers.  As for Teacher as Professional, the program has covered a very slight portion on this issue.  However, this program has not pushed the fact that teachers should be viewed as professionals and has really just left the topic open for individuals to deliberate among other different views of teachers.